Floppy disk Star Wars

December 29th, 2011 3:29 PM
by
Filed under Hacks & mods;
1 comment.

Chiptune music is the art of using classic computing hardware to make original tunes. Usually, there's software involved, such as DMS Drummer, and the result is emitted from the device's inbuilt speakers.

Such is not always the case. Over the past few years, I've posted several videos of hard drives and printers making music, from Bohemian Rhapsody to "A Simple Text File". I also once posted a hard drive playing the "Imperial March", which proved popular enough on Digg to shut down my site. I don't think that'll happen this time, though, so please enjoy a floppy disk rendition of the march:

The artist's Web site describes the method for producing this video:

The sound comes from a magnetic head moved by stepper motor. To make a specific sound, head must be moved with appropriate frequency… To move the head you need to activate the drive by pulling the DRVSB0 or 1 (depends on the cable you have and the connector – notice the crossover on the FDD ribbon cable) pin low and then falling edge on STEP pin makes the head move one step in direction dependent on DIR pin state. An ATMega microcontroller is generating those frequencies and it makes the drives play music.

Another variation is demonstrated on the Amiga using a seemingly different method:

Listen to Amiga floppy drive playing a simple music, however, not with the step motor which moves the head, but with the motor which spins the disk. This means that disk must be inserted to hear music. And there is no fear that floppy will break like with the step motor music!

I've yet to find any such musical demonstrations that feature an Apple II floppy disk. Do you have some? Let me know!

(Hat tip to Paul DeFilippo)

Alderaan Trail

September 20th, 2010 1:23 PM
by
Filed under Game trail, Software showcase;
Comments Off

Oregon Trail, having recently enjoyed a successful film adaptation, is now being adapted to a variety of other media. The first is a mashup with another storied film franchise:

Alderaan Trail Shoppe
But I was going to Tosche Station for some power converters!
Image copyright Matt Marchini.

Sadly, this is one of several pictures that are not screen shots from an actual game, but mockups of a theoretical one. From the photo album's description:

A long time ago in a galaxy pretty far away… As a galactic civil war rages on, the escalating violence in your system has reached new heights. Seeking a better life you and a small band of compatriots set out on a perilous journey to find a new home. Alderaan, a small blue planet know for it's civility ( it is said by many that they have no weapons) would make the perfect retreat for your loved ones hoping to avoid Imperial entanglements. Untold danger awaits you on… THE ALDERAAN TRAIL.

A version that's closer to the original in setting but a far cry in genre is So Long, Oregon! for iOS. Here's a trailer for this side-scrolling shooter:

Also available for the iPhone is Oregon Trail itself, which was reviewed in the March 2010 issue of Juiced.GS. More affordably, if you want to play a modern retelling, check out Thule Road Trip online, as detailed in my KansasFest 2009 presentation.

In whatever era or medium you play this classic game, you'll likely find it harder than you remember. Rather than mourn your inevitable failure, celebrate that you were able to experience even a fraction of the glorious Oregon Trail:

epic fail photos - Cake WIN

(Hat tip to Bob's House of Video Games)